9 Unconventional Tips That Will Actually Help You Read More In 2018

by Kerri Jarema

You've probably heard all of the advice before. "If you want to read more, just carry a book with you everywhere!" Or maybe, "You need to watch less Netflix!" But if you're already a voracious reader who just happened to fall into traps of distraction or busyness, then the usual reading advice might not be helpful for you. And that's when it's time to turn to some more unconventional methods of getting your nose in the books in 2018, and tacking all of your biggest New Year's reading resolutions.

I, myself, have never had trouble making my yearly book goal of a book a week, but I have noticed a drop in my reading enjoyment over the past couple of years. And as someone who finds great joy in being a reader, I decided that just wouldn't do. So I started to adopt some of the nine unconventional methods below into my own life for various reasons, and found that each and every one of them has had a great positive effect on my own reading life. If you're hoping to read more, read better, and just rediscover your enjoyment in reading in the new year, check out the tips below. I'm positive they'll make 2018 your best reading year yet.

Incorporate Daily Meditation Into Your Life

I started a daily meditation practice in 2017 for anxiety management — no, it's not always easy and I am still nowhere near the level of daily zen I hope to someday reach — but I have felt a huge difference in many areas of my life nonetheless. And one of the biggest ways meditation has helped me is in my reading. Because the practice is all about mindfulness — allowing your mind to focus on the here and now, to be free from all distractions, and worries about the past of future. And even though it might take some time, your reading will benefit immensely from a quieter mind. You'll probably enjoy reading more than you have in a long time, which will make you want to read more often; and with a heightened focus you'll read more than ever. Check out apps like Insight Timer and Headspace to get started.

Make A Commitment To Taking Social Media Breaks

Social media is one of the biggest ways in which our minds become muddled, over-busy, stressed and anxious. It's my firm belief that we simply weren't made to process the world on such a large and constant scale. And whether you're being bombarded with good (we can only hope) or bad news, your brain is nevertheless being flooded with more information than it can really process all at once. It's no wonder so many of us have been reading less than we'd like to! So take a social media break. In 2018, I am going to try to take one day off of social media every week. For you it might be one week every few months, or just lessening the amount of hours you spend on it per day. Either way, giving your mind the room to relax and fully immerse itself into reading will make a huge difference.

Turn Reading Into A Method Of Self-Care

Self-care has become hugely talked about over the past couple of years, and for very good reasons. It's crucial to take care of ourselves in a world where being on the go, constantly striving, fighting, working just constantly doing something has become such a prized state of existence. But rest and reflection is tantamount to health and happiness, which is why taking time away from our busy lives to do things that soothe our souls and relax our bodies is 100% necessary. But why stop at manicures and meditation, bubble baths and Netflix binges? If you love reading, why not make it a self-care priority? Block out time for it just as you would a weekly therapy appointment or a daily walk. Just because reading doesn't shut off your mind doesn't mean it's not a rejuvenating exercise. In fact, your mind will probably feel more settled when it's immersed in a book.

Listen To Some Instrumental Music While You Read

I'm the sort of person who prefers to read in total silence, but I have tons of friends who say they just can't concentrate without some noise. Maybe you've been trained to consider reading a quiet activity (after all, your no-talking allowed grammar school reading hour and that "ssh-ing" librarian are probably ingrained in your brain) but you haven't even realize how that self-imposed silence is affecting your reading. Scientists have long debated the effects of music on concentration, but many believe that listening to soft instrumental music can help you focus, lower your blood pressure, provide calm and even relieve pain... all things that will make reading more enjoyable. So try some Mozart (or maybe even those Hamilton lullabies) the next time you sit back with a book. The results might surprise you.

Schedule In Unhauling Time Throughout The Year

I know you don't want to hear this, but it has to be said: you need to get rid of books, and you need to do it often. I know there are tons of readers out there who love collecting books and consider that a great joy in their lives. If that's you, ignore this. But if you have ever had moments of feeling completely overwhelmed by how many unread books you own, so much so that you don't read at all...then this is for you. Go through your books every six months, every three months, every month if you have to, and get rid of the books you're never going to read and the ones you know you won't reread. Donate them, sell them, give them to friends. Making more literal room for books makes more mental room for them, too. If you have a stack of only books you're excited about, you'll reach for them more.

Make Cleaning And Organizing Your Space A Weekly Occurrence

I know, I'm sorry. But an untidy atmosphere only feeds an untidy mind. So if you're ready to commit to more mindfulness, your physical space must follow suit. According to Psychology Today clutter can have a huge impact on our mental health, from lowering our subjective well-being to producing "mental clutter" or a state of mind in which we can't inhibit irrelevant information. This clogs up our neural networks, making us slower and less efficient in processing information—definitely not an ideal state to be in if you're hoping to read more. So take a few minutes at the end of each day to tidy your space, schedule in bigger cleanings every week or two, and think about decluttering beyond just your bookshelves. No, I'm not saying you need to go completely minimalist to read better, but making space in your life for only items you really love and really need can have a huge effect on bringing some mental clarity.

Create A Community Experience Around Your Reading

For some people, the isolation of reading can keep them from doing it as often as they'd like. If you're someone who works from home, for example, and the idea of being alone on a Sunday afternoon to read when you could be out to brunch with friends sounds like your idea of torture, than it's time to turn your love of books into a community activity. And there are countless ways to do it. Start a book club with your best friends that meets once a week. Go to more free author events and readings, where you can meet new people who love the same things you do. Save up for tickets to bookish conventions. If you make reading more social, you'll not only look forward to doing it more, you'll also be killing two birds with one stone: spending time with the people you love IRL while indulging in the more solitary experience of reading.

Change Up Your Idea Of Achieving A Yearly Book Goals

I love making a yearly book goal come January 1, but for some readers the idea of predicting how many books they will read in the coming year can feel like a major unwanted pressure, starting off their bookish year with anxiety rather than excitement. If you fall into that camp there's a really easy fix: don't make a yearly book goal. Now, that doesn't mean you can't make any bookish goals at all. And one that might be way more beneficial to you is to make a daily or weekly page count instead. The idea of tackling 10 pages a day, or 50 pages a week already sounds much more doable than, say, 75 books in a year. By focusing on smaller, more attainable goals, you will feel more accomplished each time you read, and therefore more likely to pick up a book without associating it with feelings of failure or guilt.

Cultivate A Totally Pressure Free Reading Mindset

If you have found that reading pressure of any kind—taking part in challenges and yearly goals, making sure to always read the year's buzziest books, buying or not buying as many books as other people—has affected your enjoyment of books in the past, then make 2018 the year of totally unpressured reading. Avoid reading fatigue entirely by cutting yourself some slack. Try not to worry about hitting any arbitrary goals that you or others have created. Just read the books you want to read. Read them with intention and attention. Build up a life of mindfulness and clarity. And do all of these things because you want to, because they will make you happier and healthier overall. I am certain that and a better reading year will naturally follow. Now take a deep breath, and dive into that next read.